Scoop: Chris Christie friends believe he's running in 2024
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is seriously considering running for president in 2024, three people familiar with his thinking tell Axios.
Driving the news: While Christie isn't saying anything publicly about his thinking — besides telling radio host Hugh Hewitt he's not ruling it out — people close to him have an early sense of the rationale and outlines of a potential candidacy.
The big picture: Absent another run by former President Trump, the field would be wide open.
- Christie, whose 2016 bid for the nomination was short-lived, has told friends that he'd be the only person in the 2024 field with executive experience who has run a presidential race before.
- That's a clear shot at one potential rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who's enjoying a surge of popularity from Republican voters for his handling of COVID-19 and his sparring with the media but hasn't yet endured the scrutiny of a presidential bid.
- Christie could run on a reputation for toughness that appeals to Trump's base minus the former president's recklessness, said one source. Another said he has a mix of combativeness and charisma that Republicans are looking for to take on President Biden and Democrats.
- He has potential crossover appeal to blue-collar and suburban right-of-center voters.
- And his experience as a former federal prosecutor could help distinguish him in debates and prepare for a primary contest in which there may be less of a premium on ad-libbing than in 2016.
Between the lines: Christie has a steep hill to climb if he does decide to run. In 2016, his candidacy got a walloping by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as well as the unexpected, once-in-a-generation political phenomenon that was Trump.
- Now that Christie is out of any elected office, his statements don't carry the newsworthiness of a sitting governor's or a senator's.
- But from his perch as an ABC contributor, Christie has been making statements designed to get headlines and position himself as a top Republican attack dog against Biden. On a recent "This Week" appearance, Christie accused Biden of "lying" in his descriptions of infrastructure.
The bottom line: Christie has told associates that Trump's decision about running again in 2024 won't affect his own decision-making.